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Dear Lefties…

Dear Gun Grabbers;

I won’t lie to you. We’re really pissed off about these new gun control proposals.

We’re pissed off because all of the proposed regulations are stupid, meaningless hurdles we’ll have to jump through. They’ll barely slow us down. They seem designed to piss us off and nothing more. They make absolutely NO meaningful change in the American gun trade. And it looks like most of it won’t even pass into law.

Take that “assault weapon” ban. Real, military-style assault weapons are already off-limits to ordinary citizens. Honest. So, last time, Congress had to come up with a list of characteristic that make a civilian weapon an “assault weapon.” Nearly all of them (like the example above from New York’s new, hastily slung together law) are purely cosmetic. They make guns look scary, but they don’t actually make guns deadlier.

I know. It’s hard to believe Congress would make such a big effing deal over stuff this idiotic, but I swear it’s true. You can look it up.

Or that thing with the high-capacity magazines. Some other time, we can discuss whether they’re dangerous. But, for now, did you know the “ban” only covered making new ones? All the old ones were still out there, still legal to own, still legal to sell, still on the shelves. We have gazillions of the things lying around. So anyone who wanted one could get one, no probs. Oh, and the same applied to “assault weapons.”

It wasn’t so much a ban as a making-things-somewhat-more-expensive-and-desirable.

So the upshot is, simply because we had this little national conversation about gun control this month, tens of thousands millions of new guns (and the ammunition to go with) have been bought and stockpiled. The NRA picked up a quarter of a million new members so far. Gun owners feel insulted and picked on. We’re madder and less willing to negotiate than ever, because we’re convinced that the whole idea of gun control has devolved into a bunch of petty bullshit reindeer games. We will put NOTHING on the table willingly in future.

And, in return, all you’re likely to get is that weak sauce executive order about CDC studies and gun lock standards.

I know why we’re mad. Why the hell aren’t you?

Gun Nuts

January 17, 2013 — 11:08 pm
Comments: 38

Apparantly, Amazon doesn’t think I’m a serious person

So, presumably based on their spectacular powers of psychic detection, Amazon recommended this to me: Black & White Wiggly/Wobbly/Googly Eyes 100pk.

A hundred pack! Because I guess a dozen Wiggly/Wobbly/Googly eyes wasn’t going to cut it for all my googly eye needs.

I’ve never bought anything arty or crafty from Amazon. I have no idea where this shit came from.

Oh, the best part is that thirty two Amazonians bothered to rate their Wiggly/Wobbly/Googly Eye purchase. Most people were delighted by their Wiggly/Wobbly/Googly Eye experience. And then there was this guy:

Bought these in the hope of using them for random stuff, unfortunately, not all of them have a sticky back, only the small ones do, which makes most of the pack useless, pretty unhappy with them to be honest.

Unhappy. Let down. Disappointed. Wanted to stick them on random stuff. Thwarted.

What, me? Okay, yes. Yes. I was tempted.

January 16, 2013 — 9:24 pm
Comments: 26

Oooo…you guys’re making maniac outta me…!

No, not YOU guys. I mean, the guys weighing in on the gun control who speak in hushed tones of semi-automatics. People who ought to know better. Even people who claim to be pro-gun.

It’s such a simple, easy-to-grasp point that, I submit to you, anyone talking about the issue of gun control without demonstrating that they know what a semi-automatic is should be automatically disqualified. You’re either trying to put one over on people, or you’re too ignorant to count.

Go. Sit in the corner.

In the world of handguns, there are some strange, one-of-a-kind beasties primarily used for target shooting, but those specialist dealies aside, the following is true:

A semi-automatic handgun is most of them.

The other word for semi-automatic handgun is pistol.

A semi-automatic handgun is every handgun that is not a revolver. You know, not a wheelgun. Not a cowboy gun. If it would look stupid in a cowboy movie (but not a spy movie), it’s a semi-automatic.

smallest semi-auto every commercially manufactured

In fact, technically, a double-action revolver is a semi-automatic. Because after you pull the trigger, it gets the next round ready to go. Which is all that semi-automatic means: it gets the next round ready to go. You still have to pull the trigger again. You pull the trigger once for every round fired, m’kay? You just don’t have to cock it every time.

That’s what semi-automatic means: you don’t have to cock it again by hand after you fire the first shot.

A semi-automatic is not an automatic. It is not a machine gun. You don’t mash the trigger and a bunch of bullets fly out. It doesn’t fire bigger bullets. It doesn’t fire more powerful bullets. It doesn’t hold more bullets.

A semi-auto is dangerous. That’s its job. But if you’re talking about banning them, you’re talking about a nation-wide gun confiscation.


— 12:13 am
Comments: 38

Say, why not join the NRA?

I joined the NRA in 1999, after the Columbine massacre. As usual, the press did a hatchet job on them after the atrocity and, as usual, it caused an unprecedented rise in NRA membership. And, with it, an unprecedented jump in the NRA’s money, power and influence. If I were a paranoid weasel, that would smell all hmmmmm.

Still, on planet reality, the NRA is about as sinister an organization as your Uncle Fred’s bowling league.

Anyway, the best benefit of the NRA: merchandise with the NRA logo on it. They sell especially good t-shirts — high quality Fruit of the Loom shirts, good designs, sturdy silk-screening. Wear an NRA shirt with a pair of grubby jeans and sneakers, and you can wander around Whole Foods for ages before somebody actually reads your shirt and get the rage-face. You can actually see the moment the NRA shirt registers on the liberal brain. It almost makes a little sound, like poink.

And you get these awesome mailings a couple of times a year, with their gun giveaway sweepstakes. Its their main fundraising gimmick. It’s like the Publisher’s Clearing House thing, with the little stickers where you get to pick your prizes. Uncle B and I spent a merry time playing, “okay, you can have the Glock if I can have the S&W.” I loved those mailings; they’re refreshingly unashamed. They have colorful pictures of guns all over the envelope, with text like “GUNS GUNS GUNS GUNS GUNS AND MORE GUNS!!!’lebenty!!!”

The downside is, at least once a week, Wayne LaPierre’s hair catches fire, and then you get these mailings that go, “oh my god! They’re coming! They’re coming for our guns! No, seriously! Right now! Give me ten bucks RIGHT THIS MINUTE!” Way too many fundraising letters.

Also, there are many who think the NRA is insufficiently protective of gun rights (I know. Try explaining this to a lefty. It’s like trying to explain that George Bush wasn’t a conservative). Me, I think the name recognition alone makes them worth belonging to, but if you don’t agree, there’s always Gun Owners of America.

Or my most favoritest — Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership. Now, these guys are serious. They’re the ones that got in trouble for trying to buy “trigger locks — rapist approved” billboards. Their newsletter is a hoot.

The very name Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership is a tidy ’nuff said argument against gun control. It’s kind of an argument-ender all by itself. Without firing a shot, as it were.

I’ve let all those memberships lapse. I was hoping to make enough on the sale of my house to buy a lifetime membership in the NRA on my way out, but the housing market collapsed (you may recall, ahem) and I barely got away with pocket money.

Anyway, I think the mailings were making my postman uncomfortable.

January 14, 2013 — 11:57 pm
Comments: 28

And then there was this

Eh, I got nothing interesting, so let’s stick with Doom for the weekend. So, there was a comic. Did you know that? A couple of years after the game, id software released it. God alone knows why.

What do you do for dialogue when your plot consists of some guy running at full tilt through a building shooting stuff? Well, these folks decided to go with Doom Guy’s stream of consciousness.

I’m cookin’ with gas! I’ve gotta handful of vertebrae and a headful of mad! Yeah. That’s your spinal cord, baby! Dig it! Who’s the man? I’m the man! I’m a bad man! How bad? Real bad! I’m 12.0 on the 10.0 scale of badness! Don’t need a gun…guns are for wusses!

Huh? Whuzzat? Whuzzat? I like what I see! An important looking door…

Knock Knock. Who’s there? ME! ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME

This is something between Ripley’s hissed version of You Are My Lucky Star while she shoots the alien out the airlock, and that dog who REALLY fucking wants him some Kibbles ‘n’ Bits.

My favorite part is toward the end, when he splashes radioactive goo on himself and gives a speech about protecting the environment. It’s like his meds kick in for thirty seconds. Just go read it.

Have a great weekend. And remember, kids — rip and tear!

January 11, 2013 — 11:48 pm
Comments: 19

Doom. DOOOM!

No, seriously — Doom, the computer game. Steam was offering the whole franchise for a few pounds over the holidays, so I bit.

While not technically the very first First Person Shooter, it was the first large, really functional, major mega-ass hit FPS. It’s hard to overstate how popular this thing was when it was released in 1994. It was a phenomenon. It was HUGE. It gummed up computer networks and ate up productivity from coast to coast.

It was a great game. But there were two additional clever things id software did that helped make Doom a gorilla: they gave a third of the game away for free, encouraging players to make copies and spread it around (unheard of in those overpriced, aggressively copy-protected days). And they allowed users to modify the game — change the graphics, build new levels, make it a whole ‘nother game.

I worked in a corporate art department, so we got an official boss sanction to play, provided we didn’t spend an obscene amount of time at it and were able to couch our activity in the corporate bullshit language of Learning New Things. We developed a whole office vocabulary of Doom, full of Pink Boys and Scratchy Guys.

First time I’ve played it in a decade and a half, anyway, and I’m horrified to report the grooves worn into my head are fresh and clear. Turn right, turn left, there’s a secret door behind the green panel, watch out for the Eyeball Monster coming through the teleportation pad. I remember more Doom than High School algebra.

It’s nigh impossible to believe we ever saw this goofy, clunky thing as a challenge to play, let alone an existential threat to American society. But the violence, the gore, the kinda sorta Satanic iconography was viewed with great alarm by the usual Great Alarm Viewers. Particularly when it turned out the Columbine shooters were big fans.

‘Twas ever thus.

p.s. I can’t pass the topic without mentioning my great invention. I am inordinately proud of that.

January 10, 2013 — 11:40 pm
Comments: 30

Bend over — here it comes!

“What’re you in for, son?”

Garlic smuggling.

It tells you all you need to know about food taxes here that you’ll make an extra £8 million if you can smuggle your ton of Chinese garlic past the tax man.

Hey — been shopping? I don’t know about the States, but over here…oh, my sweet, fancy Moses! Have the prices gone up since Christmas! They kept everything steady and ran lots of sales before the holidays, but now…let ‘er rip!

Like most people (I assume), we buy the same things over and over, so we notice. Cheap cat food by the six pack: £2.99 a fortnight ago, £3.50 today. Butter, £1 to £2. Liquor…no, I don’t even want to talk about liquor.

I’m taking up smack. It’s cheaper.

And the sneaky bastards are covering it up. First, the sneaky bastards at the supermarket are all touting this “brand match” thing. They’re holding prices fairly even on the big brand name products, where they have a lot of margin to play with, and steadily rising the price of the lesser brands, store brands and generics. So the register receipts say, “you saved £5 today!”…on the price of Heinz beans or Smirnoff vodka, while the basic, minimum cost of eating goes up and up.

Second, the sneaky bastards in government are pegging inflation to things like house prices and new cars. Well, sure…house prices have dropped. And everybody’s terrified to buy the big ticket items like cars, if they don’t absolutely have to, so no. Those aren’t going up, either. Yay, no inflation!

Meanwhile, back in Meatworld, where people must eat, wear clothes, heat the house and gas up the car before they do anything else, costs are galloping away. Food and energy. Through. The. Freaking. Roof.

And if our farmer neighbors are any indication, we ain’t seen nothing yet. Costs of grain and other animal feeds went up sharply this year. So, to avoid having to feed herds and flocks through the Winter, many of them took the loss and sold off as much livestock as they dared in the Fall. So there’s an abundance of meat on the market…until it’s gone.

Oh, what larks!

January 9, 2013 — 10:47 pm
Comments: 30

Putting the ‘I’ in ‘merchandise’

Oh, hey, I keep forgetting to mention — I did put together some “let it burn” bumper stickers and shirts and stuff. Let me know if you have other ideas or you’d like on other objects…Zazzle makes all kinds of odd things now, like clocks and iPad cases.

Personally, I think my favorite is just the plain black type on white — which
means you could just as easily put it on a shirt or bumpersticker yourself and
save the royalties. But do remember, your fifty cents enables a weasel to
buy a can of store brand kidney beans!

— 3:29 pm
Comments: 9

So, this is legit. I guess.

There’s a bit of a mystery and a bit of a buzz here — Adobe appears to have released the entire CS2 version of its Creative Suite, legal serial numbers and everything, for free. That’s Acrobat 3D 1.0, Acrobat Standard 7.0, Acrobat Pro 8.0, Audition 3.0, GoLive CS2, Illustrator CS2, InCopy CS2, InDesign CS2, Photoshop CS2, Photoshop Elements 4.0/5.0 and Adobe Premiere Pro 2.0. Either all together in a big, fat suite, or à la carte. Nobody is sure why.

Each of those programs alone was hundreds of dollars new. The catch is, “new” was 2005. While this may cause problems for Mac users, not so much for Windows users. I know several people still using the CS version of Photoshop, so CS2 should be a doddle to run.

As y’all know, I’ve just expensively upgraded my Photoshop from CS3 to CS6 and, while there are lots of incremental tweaks and improvements, the difference is hardly dramatic. Before that, I had CS, and before that Photoshop 6. Frankly, the basic guts of the thing haven’t changed in…ever, really.

So I downloaded and installed the Illustrator and InDesign components this afternoon (two excellent bits of Adobe kit I’ve used in the past and couldn’t afford to buy for myself). They installed fine, accepted the serial numbers and appear to be running with no problems. I registered them to my official account as if they were legitimate, because as far as I’m concerned, they are…until Adobe tells me otherwise.

This could be a clever bit of marketing from Adobe. You know, get people hooked on an old version and hope to make a customer for life. But if that’s the case, why aren’t they advertising it at all? The download page is just sitting there, no promotional blurb, no index page, no link of the front…nothing. I have no idea who discovered it and started spreading the word.

This could be a stupid move on Adobe’s part, as these versions are probably good enough for most people. In which case, I’d expect them to recant real soon now.

Zo! If you’ve ever wanted Photoshop (or any other Creative Suite component) but gagged at the price, I’d scoot on over and grab this. Quick. Before they change their minds.

(Thanks to Don for the heads up).

Update InDesign and Illustrator seem to be working okay for me, Windows7 64-bit professional. Photoshop crashed thrice for Uncle B, running XP on a ThinkPad, so he’s uninstalling it. So. Word to the wise.

January 8, 2013 — 10:48 pm
Comments: 32

Are you ready for some ar-che-ology?

These days, the Thames is one of the cleanest urban rivers in the world. Once upon a time, though — and for hundreds and hundreds of years — it was London’s toilet, wastebasket and repository of unwanted dead hookers rolled into one. If you have the stomach to go looking, some of the junk thrown or lost down there is incredibly cool.

“Mudlarks” are people who traditionally combed through the shit on either side of the river looking for stuff worth having. Historically, it was neither nice nor lucrative. These days, mudlarks are armed with metal detectors, and it’s…well, actually, it’s still not nice and not often lucrative, but they find some unbelievable stuff.

To metal detect along the Thames, you need a license from the Port of London Authority. And to get that, you need the approval of the Museum of London. Which is excellent, because the museum does analysis on their finds and buys the very best specimens for display. There are only about fifty people with a license at the moment.

Okay, hang on to your retinas, I’m about to send you to the Mudlarks’ official site, or as I call it: The Worst Site on the Internet. I mean it. Not because it’s ungrammatical, scatological, politically incorrect, half missing and keeps pointing you to the awesome new site that doesn’t seem to exist. No, because MY EEEEEEEEEYESSSSSSSSS!

But it’s totally worth the risk of nausea, shortness of breath, incontinence and temporary color blindness, just to browse through what’s left of the pictures of all the cool things they’ve dug up.

Would I lie?

Update: oh, their new website is MUCH easier on the eyes! Thanks for the tip, Carl!

January 7, 2013 — 11:49 pm
Comments: 31